By Deb Patterson
SYRACUSE — The annual Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation’s Celebration and meeting wasn’t open to the public, but hundreds could view the meeting happenings through a live stream on the foundation’s Facebook page. Over 304 people viewed and heard about the activities of WACF, recognitions and overview on the first year of the Wawasee Inlet Nutrient Study.
A highlight of the annual event is the presentation of the Cattail Award. But this year, a new highlight was added. The board developed the “Exceptional Service Award,” which may be presented once every five years.
Tom Yoder, Larry Baumgardt, Joan Szynal and Doug Yoder were recipients of these honors.
Tom Yoder received the first “Exceptional Service Award.” Yoder, who has worked over the numerous 29 years with land acquisition, stated he has received a lot more than he has given over the years. A plaque with Yoder’s photo and a biography will have a permanent place in the Ruddell Pavilion.
Baumgardt, Szynal and Doug Yoder, were recipients of the 2020 Cattail Award. This award is given to a person or people who have “gone out of their way to help with the cause and have gone over and above big time,” explained Chris Roberts, WACF president.
Baumgardt was recognized for his service of capturing what the WACF is about through photography and serving on the public relations committee.
Szynal, who served as board chair for several years and was on the board from 2010-2019,
Yoder, who served on the board from 2010-2019 and served as chairman in 2019, has worked with the canoe team and land management.
Dr. Jerry Sweeten, with Ecosystems Connections Institute LLC, Denver, Ind., gave a high level summary of information from the WINS study that was not known last year. “This project is setting a new standard for glacial lakes and has changed conversations,” said Sweeten. His presentation focused on why nutrients and sediment matter — lake eutrophication trajectory, the amount of phosphorus, nitrogen and sediment is entering and leaving the lake, how much of the nutrients and sediment is accumulated in the lake, which tributary/subwatershed is the largest source of nutrients and sediment, the best strategic pathway to mitigate, restore and/or reduce nutrients and sediment relative to target values.
The information gathered in the first year of the study has “drawn a line in the sand” for future work by the WACF. He stated accurate data is important thus the WINS study has taken close to 3,000 samples and conducted 18,359 tests since the study began, vs previous data collected with fewer samples.
Among the various graphs and data presented, Sweeten noted the Dillen Creek tributary had exceeded the target amount of phosphorus 84 percent of the time. Turkey Creek exceeded the target 80 percent.
During other business of WACF, Heather Harwood, executive director, reviewed a number of grants and donations for projects. Among those was receipt of EQUIP funds from the Natural Resources Conservation Services. Work will begin on removing evasive species from the forest on the educational property and and timber stand improvement.
It was announced funds have been provided by a donor for the construction of a new pavilion at the Between the Lakes Property on Pickwick Drive. Ground will be broke in a few months with completion by the end of the year.
Additionally a gracious donor has provided funds for an educational director to be on the WACF. Pam Schumm will take on that position in 2021.
The meeting also recognized outgoing board members: Pam Schumm, Ron Baumgartner and Bart Culver; and welcomed new board members Terry Clapacs, Joan Szynal and Linda Earnest. It was also announced John Bearss will serve as vice president for the coming year.
To view the entire event, including Sweeten’s presentation, people can visit the WACF Facebook’s page.